The Opportunities and Challenges of Managing Alternative Theatre Stages in Istanbul: 
The Collective and Individual Actions and Propositions

Presentation with Burcu Yasemin Şeyben (Turkey)

Burcu Yasemin Seyben completed her BA in the Playwriting programme of Bennington College in 1999, and her MA in Visual Communication Design MA programme of Istanbul Bilgi University (BILGI). She wrote a PhD thesis on theatre and cultural policies of the young Turkish Republic and acquired her PhD degree from the Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy department of Istanbul University 2009. From 2001 to 2005 she worked as a research assistant in the Management of Performing Arts at BILGI. Since 2005 she has been working as a faculty member in the same department. She has been involved in many cultural and performing arts research, management, policy and networking projects in BILGI, Santralistanbul and Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. 
Her research interests include performing arts history, theory and management.


Format of Presentation: paper presentation. 

In the last few years there has been a considerable increase in the number of alternative theatre spaces in Istanbul. The most important reason of this increase is that contemporary theatre makers have been looking for new spaces to stage their contemporary work beyond the proscenium stages that are mostly owned by municipalities or state theatres who do very rarely allow newly emerging and contemporary work to be staged in their venues. The private theatre venues have not been the best option for these independent theatre groups either because a private theatre venue usually belongs to a theatre company who charges more than these contemporary theatre makers can afford or because they can not devote a time slot for other companies’ works.

Left with no other option, contemporary theatre companies in Istanbul started to rent alternative spaces such as garages and flats and renovate them to fit their needs for their type of performances. Some drew bank credits and the others earned money from acting in TV series to be able to run their own venues. Despite all the legal and fiscal difficulties, they insisted on having their own spaces. They came together and formed a collective under the title “7 Alternative Theatre Stages Joint Initiative”. I will identify and analyze how these theatre makers operate individually as managers of their own venue and collectively as members of 7 who day-to-day face the challenges of financial management, programming and publicity. How does this mutual and new venue management mechanism operate and what are its benefits and problems for each member and the initiative? I will also question how venue management and the running of a theatre company work when the artists assume the role of performing arts administrators.

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse"